Bangkok is often a mystery of traffic congestion and related stress in getting from point A to B. I learned a long time ago that thinking I could accomplish 3 things in a day – all in different locations around the city – was a tad too ambitious. These days I try to round up my activities in a given 24 hours into a particular location, and just stay put.
On the other hand, there are always tempting reasons to dive into the fray of Bangkok traffic, and one for me is a good fitness class. For 8 months or so I was a regular at a HIIT training studio. They offered a ½ hour lunch class that I loved, and the location was a short ride (defined as more-or-less 20 minutes) from my office. I could get there, get a workout in, shower and return in a respectable hour and a half. Twice a week I figured was doable.
But traffic wears a person down, and after several months, despite enjoying the workout and only going in 2x per week, I was done. Done with the grind of hustling about Bangkok less than absolutely necessary in the middle of the work day.
This is why, when I first walked into Sol Yoga Bangkok about 2 years ago (back when it was still a new business) the key selling point was its location – a 2 block walk from my office.
I needed to test it out. You never know with exercise classes, and I’m a picky student. So, I was more curious than optimistic about this place.
Turns out though, this little studio, located in a house off Pethchaburi and Soi Soonvijai road, a stone’s throw from Bangkok Hospital, has proven for me to be a gift from the yogi goddesses. The owner, Kru Look Mee, (“Kru” = “teacher” in Thai) is not only one of the most skilled yoga instructors I have ever encountered, but she is also an absolute delight. Tiny, but mighty, she conducts her classes with humor and grace. Class sizes are small – usually no more than 10 students, and often as few as 3 or 4. With classes this small everyone can receive individual attention, at least from an instructor who teaches that way. Kru Loo Mee does, and you will not go unnoticed if you drop in. She also takes no prisoners. She will make adjustments to your asanas and offer advice when she sees that you can use it. She has that special gift of the most wonderful teachers: knowing when to tell you what to do and when to back off and leave you alone. That said, if you think you can get away without attempting scorpion pose or some derivative thereof in her class you are quite wrong. She will push you to try a version – she has multiple variations of just about any pose at her fingertips…
She will tell you to put your foot “here” while pointing to your shoulder. When that doesn’t happen, her first response will be to approach you, look deeply into your eyes and politely repeat the instruction in case you did not hear the first time. You may know that it is simply not happening in this lifetime – that your foot will make it to your shoulder. But somehow you want to please her so you try harder. Your foot manages to make it a half an inch closer. And so it goes…
Kru Look Mee has cultivated a loyal following, and the vibes in her classes are healthy, fun and light. One of my favorite things about this community is that they, in the end, do not take themselves too seriously. I have seen cakes and even ice cream deliveries on birthdays at the end of a class. Before indulging though, the birthday boy or girl needs to blow out the candles while in a yoga pose – maybe a headstand or wheel.
There are Gentle, Flow and Focus classes to choose from. Classes are taught in Thai with a bit of English thrown in for good measure. There is often at least one teacher on the schedule operating fully in English. The studio has a tidy, well equipped locker & shower room, plenty of clean organic towels and (a nice Thai service touch) Manduka yoga mats laid out in advance of class for the students.
There is even a cute resident puppy, named “Muji,” to play with while you wait for classes to start.
If you are looking for a new yoga class to try in Bangkok, you will be sweaty, but not sorry for giving Sol Yoga Bangkok a try.